Even though it’s still summer, I know I’m already thinking about back-to-school and I thought it would be fun to share my 8 best kids lunch boxes with compartments – also known as Bento boxes. These make for great school lunches and adults love them, too.
What I particularly like is that you can create hundreds of combinations beyond sandwiches and chips.
In fact, packing these lunches has practically become an art form!
There are even accessories to make endless varieties of lunches that don’t include peanut butter and jelly sammies (but of course there are even more ways to pack your favorite sandwiches!)
You’ll notice that there are enough compartments to include a variety of items – yes, sandwiches, but so much more!
First, let’s talk the fact that it’s stainless steel – obviously not microwaveable, but durable, easy to clean, and it’s going to last.
I will say that the weight of this is substantial, so consider that if you have little ones who will be trekking this to and from school.
Each lid is a different color, making them great if you have more than one kiddo going off to school or if you want to pack a lunch for each member of the family (they’re great for picnics, too!)
The lid fits snugly, but they are not leak-proof; however, they are easy to open which makes them great for little ones.
This set comes with 8 small containers with lids that are designed to fit right into the lunch box.
While you can’t use them in the microwave, they are safe for the fridge, freezer, and dishwasher.
These are extremely kid-friendly. You can pack your own “lunchables” and include lunchmeat, crackers, and a sweet bite-size dessert. You can pack pinwheels, leftovers, you name it.
First, you have the main container, which has one large and two small compartments. Then, you get two “pods” that you can use to pack dips, sauces, and snacks separately – while still including them in the main compartment.
Then, you can keep foods chilled with the two ice packs – included! – that store in the lid.
Everything can be packed into the insulated lunch bag that comes in several different colors and prints.
It’s a great size for backpacks and shouldn’t take up too much room. However, the bag does have a handle if your child needs to carry their lunch separately.
One of the compartments holds a cup with lid, which can be used separately to include another food item.
There are a couple of drawbacks here, though.
First, because of the unique shapes of each compartment, you might have to get creative with how you pack your food.
Second, this doesn’t come with ice packs or insulated lunch bags like our first two picks. Which isn’t a deal-breaker, it’s just something to note about this one.
And while my first two picks are not microwave save, this one IS! So while your littles aren’t likely to have the option of heating up their lunches, this is good news for grown-ups who like packing their lunches.
Best Kids Lunch Boxes with Compartments
The compact, 3-compartment design is large enough to hold a whole sandwich and a side and is small enough that it won’t take up much space in a backpack. (But who are we kidding, right? This is for us grown-ups!)
This lunch box is dishwasher, microwave, and food safe and comes with plastic reusable cutlery that snaps into place for easy storage.
The lid securely locks in place and when you read the details here, it says that this particular lunch box is leak-proof, which is a big deal if you’re carrying your lunch in a backpack, purse, or tote bag.
As you can see, this isn’t a novelty product. This lunch box is as functional as it is adorable (the old-school video gamer in me loves this one!)
Younger kids might need some help opening and closing this, so keep that in mind before purchasing. The last thing your little one needs is a lunch he can’t get to because his lunch box is too hard to open!
Size wise, this lunch box is pretty large, but probably best for snacks and finger foods. This has three containers; the top holds about a cup, the middle container holds about a cup and a half, and the bottom holds about a cup and three-quarters, but there isn’t much room for an ice pack.
However, you could make your own portable ice pack by wetting a sponge and freezing it in a plastic zip-seal baggie – you could make one small enough to work.
You’ll notice that the inside of the lid has ridges that look like they seal around each compartment.
Another feature I like is that there are several compartments, which allow for variety.
One drawback to this container is that it isn’t going to allow for a drink – you’ll have to pack that separately. Which may not be a big deal, since a lot of backpacks these days have pockets for water bottles and if you decide to get a lunch bag to store this bento lunchbox, you can always toss in a juice box.
This bento box is a favorite of mine for several reasons. First, it’s leak-proof and delivers on this promise. Second, the colors and images are super kid-friendly and lunchtime is always more fun when you look forward to it. Lastly, this lunch box is built well, holds a good amount, is BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
Best of all, the latch is easy to open for little ones.
This lunch box will not keep foods warm and if you want to keep food cold, it’s best if you pack this with an ice pack outside the box.
The compartments are great for portion-control, and if you’re looking for an adult version, you’ll find several options from this brand.
Another great perk is that this is a customer favorite and gets great reviews from those who’ve purchased it.
Look What YOU Can Do With Your Bento Box!
Six Back-to-School Lunchbox Ideas When You’re Packing Your Bento Box
Your little one is heading back to school and it’s time for you to pack a lunch 5 days a week. You know you want a bento box, but what are you going to pack? You can easily fill up your child’s lunchbox with healthy meals to keep your child fueled all day long.
The video above shows some great hacks for packing back to school lunches and here are six more ways you can rock the school lunch:
1. Make the Most of Bento Boxes
Bento boxes, originally from Japan, are a very creative way to serve your child food. There are containers especially made for this purpose, like the ones shared above, or else you can simply use a variety of boxes in an assortment of sizes with small containers and silicone cupcake liners as inserts.
Bento box food is generally snack-sized and shaped to look like flowers, animals or cartoon characters. The sky is the limit as far as creativity. There are plenty of websites dedicated solely to this artistic endeavor – one of my favorite sites is EasyLunchBoxes where you’ll find hundreds of reader-submitted lunch ideas!
One way to add some variety in your bento box is with flexible cupcake liners like the ones I found here.
2. Pack Pasta for a Lunchtime Pick-Me-Up
Pasta is an easy and quick lunchbox idea. Make a batch early in the week and then load it up with various vegetables and sauces to make many different options. You can pair spaghetti noodles with meat sauce or green peas and parmesan. Or add broccoli and a simple yet delicious tomato sauce to pasta shells.
One way we love eating pasta around here is butter and if you can reheat your food, this could be a great option. Add a little mizithra cheese and you have a very tasty treat.
3. Sandwiches – The Classic
Sandwiches have been an old lunch standby for as long as most of us can remember, but they are not to be scoffed at. There is almost nothing you cannot add between two pieces of bread that isn’t automatically delicious.
From peanut butter to BLTs, sandwiches filled the lunch boxes of our own childhood and continue to do so for our children.
Keep them fresh by storing any vegetables or other moist food in a separate container, so your child can put it all together directly before consuming it. Add new tastes to expand your child’s palate and prevent boredom, such as wasabi or sriracha mayo.
4. Make the Most of Tortillas
Tortillas are so versatile. You can make wraps, burritos, even pinwheels and pizza!
Why not turn an old favorite into a new lunch idea for your school-age child? Veggie burritos are easy to make and easy to store. What’s not to love about that? Simply choose a type each of beans, veggies,
Your child will never get tired of all the options and combinations available.
A great way to use tortillas is to cut them into quarters or circles and pack individual portions of pizza topping.
One of my favorite meals is a tortilla spread with cream cheese and topped with turkey or salami lunchmeat. I roll that up and cut it into circles, which packs easily in a bento.
5. Dip – Unconventional but Lots of Fun for Lunch
A lot of the bento boxes I feature here have a compartment for dip or you can create one with a silicone cupcake liner.
How many of us think of dip as the main feature of a lunch?
But you can pack a dip as the highlight and include finger foods for dipping – particularly, veggies with a veggie dip or dressing and fruits with a fruit dip.
Speaking of fruit dip, I make a great one: blend a brick of softened, room-temp cream cheese and a jar of marshmallow fluff with an optional teaspoon of vanilla – heavenly!
Bonus points because kids love dipping food! 🙂
6. Salads – The Staple You Need in Every Lunch
Salad is a great lunch option, and it doesn’t have to be boring. Load it up with chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and top it off with a healthy dressing for a lunch your child will thank you for.
It’s easy to fit in protein, fruits, and veggies – all in the same salad! Creativity is encouraged!
You can certainly fit salad fix-ins in your bento and there are now salad storage containers that have special compartments to fit all the components of the salad – there are even tiny squeeze bottles for the dressing.
To make it easy on yourself, try once-a-week or once-a-month cooking and store your food so that you can easily pack lunches every day. Leftovers are always a good idea when your child enjoys a particular family favorite.
With all the options available, there is no reason for your child to get bored with their school lunches and it doesn’t have to be too much work for you.
Thanks to a variety of storage options like the ones shared here, your child’s lunch can be safely stored until lunch break when your child can enjoy healthy, tasty, home-packed food.
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